An injunction is a court order that requires a party to do something or refrain from doing something. Failing to comply with an injunction can result in criminal or civil penalties, including possible imprisonment.

A parent can seek an injunction from the Family Court to prevent their child’s other parent from taking them out of the State or overseas, however, it is important to be able to prove that the parent who is taking the child has no plans of returning.

The following could be used to show that a parent taking a child out of the State or overseas and has no plans to return:

  • if tickets have been purchased by the other parent for travel to another State or overseas (without return tickets)
  • if the other parent is planning a holiday and travel arrangement details are being withheld
  • if the other parent is behaving as if they have no plans of returning (for example, selling their house, moving their belongings into storage, giving up a lease etc.)
  • if the other parent has friends and family at the destination or inquired about jobs
  • if the other parent is travelling to a country that is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Abduction of Children so you will not be able to get them back from that country with the help of the Australian Government.

To take a child overseas they must have a passport. If the child doesn’t already have a passport but the other parent is trying to obtain one, you need to write to them and explain why you do not want your child to have a passport. The letter should be sent by registered mail and the signed postal receipt kept. If the other parent applies to the Family Court for an order that a passport be issued for your child without your consent, seek legal advice.

A solicitor can help convince the Court that there is a real risk the other parent is taking the child interstate or overseas without plans to return. The Court can then make orders that (for example):

  • prevent or restrain the parent from taking the child interstate or out of Australia
  • require the parent to pay an amount of money to the Court as security for the return of the child
  • direct the parent to give contact details including where the child will be staying and so on
  • place the child’s name on the airport watch list to prevent the other parent from leaving the country with the child.

For an injunction to take effect, a copy of the order and any other documents you filed at the Court must be given to the parent (or persons) involved.

If an injunction is breached by a parent there are a number of things the Court can do. These include:

  • making them pay a fine
  • making them pay a bond to the Court
  • ordering that they provide you with make up time with your child
  • ordering them to attend a parenting course
  • changing any existing Court orders
  • sending them to prison.